Tennessee`s sumner county saves taxpayers millions by self administering insurance claims

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Courtesy of IHS

Sumner County is a testament to the beauty of Tennessee. The county surrounds scenic Old Hickory Lake and rests just north of Nashville. It has been home to music legends such as Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. The population has grown rapidly over the past decade and a half, bringing new challenges to the county government's Risk Management office. 'When I came to work for the county 14 years ago, there were no safety programs in place,' said Tony Southern, Director of Risk Management for Sumner County.

As the county grew, so did the county government's workforce. Today the Risk Management office of Sumner County government is responsible for the safety and health administration of more than 4,600 employees in diverse departments such as the Board of Education, County General and the Highway Department.

With a growing workforce constituency and an increasing number of safety programs, the county's Risk Management Office faced the challenge of tracking growing numbers of injuries, medical claims and training across hundreds of work sites — all with a staff of only three people in one central office.

To address this increasingly complex burden, Sumner County chose Compliance Suite's Liability Claims Management Software, and Safety Management Software from ESS to help them track data that had previously been handled manually, and give them the ability to see trends that weren't easily visible before.

ESS' Compliance Suite has also helped Sumner County meet its OSHA compliance responsibilities more effectively. The Risk Management team can now implement solutions, new regulations, and safety policies much earlier and prevent accidents before they happen.

'By tracking the injuries by location, job functions and departments we can see the areas that are experiencing the highest number of injuries,' said Kim White, Claims Adjustor for Sumner County. 'Compliance Suite helps us break it down into so many different areas or job titles. Then we can focus on prevention.'

The software's easy-to-use format saves time, giving Sumner County's risk management staff the ability to enter and store detailed information quickly and easily, much faster than the manual process that county offices used before. 'It used to take me 2-3 days to complete the OSHA 300 reports and send them to the state. Now I just push a button,' White said.

The software also lets Sumner's Liability Claims Committee easily analyze data and make important decisions regarding the budget and the allocation of funds. 'Before, when the Committee asked us what the safety problem areas were, we had to go back and do manual research. Now, with the new system, we can answer their questions immediately,' White said.

'Compliance Suite is very user-friendly,' White continued. 'Most programs on the market today would have required custom modifications to meet our needs. But ESS' Compliance Suite met all our needs with no custom modifications necessary. This saved us a huge amount of time and money and got the program up and running much sooner. The phone training and support was very helpful as well.'

The software program that the county had used previously only allowed worker injuries to be tracked by department. Its lack of detail led to inefficient information transfer and data management. ESS software allows users to store information by department, job title, and location. Its power and flexibility yield more accurate records and immediate access to specific information based on the users' needs.

Improved data management has saved Sumner County taxpayers millions of dollars by enabling the local government to administer claims for its self-funded health and accident insurance program. After switching to a self-insured approach in 1989, Sumner County has been able to build up a reserve of US$6 million dollars.

'Compliance Suite reports help us take action faster. We can get buy-in by supervisors when we bring safety recommendations. Our department has much more impact on safety throughout the government by the ability to show the trends. The charts and graphs make the data more accessible to busy people,' White said.

'ESS' Compliance Suite is a tool that will help us continue to increase our savings and reduce injuries now that we're able to track our accidents, injuries and claims more effectively.'

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